Blue Origin Loses Lawsuit against NASA's Selection of SpaceX Human Lunar Landing System

In April, 2021, NASA selected SpaceX’s Starship-derived bid as the human lunar landing system for their Artemis program to return to the Moon. I posted about that here on 2021-04-16, “SpaceX: NASA Selects Starship for Human Lunar Landing System”, then a somewhat cynical follow-up on 2021-04-18, “NASA to Spend US$2,941,394,557 on SpaceX’s Lunar Starship”.

Blue Origin, leader of one of the teams which lost fo SpaceX, almost immediately protested the award, despite having submitted a proposal which required more money than NASA had to spend. When the protest was rejected, Blue Origin then filed a lawsuit against NASA on 2021-08-13, which caused NASA to stop work on the human landing system and suspend payments to SpaceX for the project.

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s claim. The court’s opinion is “**SEALED**”:

**SEALED** OPINION. For the reasons stated in this Memorandum Opinion, the plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed, and the Court rules on the parties’ motions as follows: the defendant’s motion to dismiss 60 under RCFC 12(b)(1) is granted; the defendant’s motion for judgment on the administrative record 60 is granted; the defendant-intervenor’s motion for judgment on the administrative record 62 is granted; and the plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the administrative record 61 is denied. The Court will issue an order in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion. Signed by Judge Richard A. Hertling.

Here is the complete court docket for the case.

Forbes has a brief article about the judgement, “Bezos’ Blue Origin Loses Lawsuit Against NASA Over Lucrative Lunar Lander Contract Awarded To Musk’s SpaceX” which states, “NASA said in a statement to Forbes that it will resume working with SpaceX as soon as possible, while SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Blue Origin, founded 21 years ago, has yet to launch a payload to Earth orbit.


Not much new here. We in the US have been trying to sue our way to the moon for decades.

I have been reading a biography of Jay Gould, one of the so-called “Robber Barons” who built the railroad system in the US in the later part of the 19th Century. The link between transportation systems and the courts has been strong for a long time – very profitable for lawyers, even if it has done little to improve life for normal Americans.